Britain’s largest operator of foodservice stores and kiosks in train stations and airports said this morning that it plans to cut 5,000 jobs.
SSP Group – which operates brands such as Upper Crust and Cafe Ritazza as well as franchises like Burger King and Starbucks – said the redundancies would be made from its head office and UK operations.
The impact on passenger travel arising from Covid-19 has resulted in the closure of almost all of its units in the UK.
Its intention was to reopen outlets and bring back staff as rapidly as possible once passenger demand recovered, having accessed the UK government’s furlough scheme.
But it said this morning that the “reality” was that passenger numbers still remain at “very low” levels due to the extent and duration of current restrictions in place.
In the rail sector, which represents the majority of SSP’s UK operations, passenger numbers remain 85% lower year-on-year and the UK air sector has to date been largely closed.
The firm, which runs nearly 3,000 stores worldwide, warned that only 20% of its UK sites are likely to be open by August.
SSP Group CEO, Simon Smith (main image), said: “We are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some parts of the world and are starting to open units as passenger demand picks up. However, in the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow.
“In response to this, we are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations. Regrettably, we are starting a collective consultation which will affect our UK colleagues.
“These are extremely difficult decisions, and our main priority will be to conduct the process carefully and fairly. Importantly, we are retaining the flexibility to upscale operations and swiftly re-open additional units if we see improved sales over the summer.”
The costs associated with the redundancies will be in the region of £8m to £10m, SSP said.
The company added that it has not commenced restructuring of a material scale in any other geographies due to its expectations of a more rapid recovery, the longer durations of furlough support or its contractual lay-off arrangements.
Prior to the onset of Covid-19, during 2019 SSP Group employed c40,000 staff around the world, serving 1.5 million customers every day at approximately 180 airports and 300 rail stations in 36 countries.